Authored by altLAB

The Challenge

As we move to remote online teaching, it is important to be able to provide flexible options to support students. However, simple things like allowing students to drop-in to your office without appointments can become a challenge in an online environment.

Sure, students can still email the lecturer, but it feels more formal. They can ask questions in class discussion, but that is not suitable for one-on-one consultations. Bb Collaborate can be used for office hours but office hours tend to have set schedules rather than an ‘open door’ policy that one can have for students to drop-in when it suits them. What can the lecturer do, if they want to create a flexible drop-in for students to get in touch in the online environment?

Solutions and Advice

One solution is to use Microsoft Teams as the platform for flexible drop-ins. Lecturers can create a team for each paper with a joining code and then share this information on Blackboard. Lecturers can also provide some guidelines and expectations for using this option along with the information.

This is a quick way to create a paper Team without needing to add students into it manually.

Students can opt-in to join the team and either drop a line in the Teams channel or start a private chat with the lecturer. If the lecturer is available, the chat becomes a synchronous chat session, or they can opt to start a (video) call. If not, the lecturer can respond to the private chat asynchronously.

This approach allows lecturers to provide an informal flexible drop-in option for students to get in touch with them, at a time that suits the students.